Elected officials gathered in Coney Island Saturday to christen the newly refurbished cyclone at the spring opening ceremony for Luna Park.
The celebration had been postponed one week because weather reports predicted a Nor’easter on the first day of spring. However, the delay didn’t dampen the excitement in Coney Island’s amusement district.
“In Staten Island, they need a groundhog to determine when spring arrives. But here in southern Brooklyn the roars of the Cyclone and the Thunderbolt determine that spring has arrived,” said City Councilman Mark Treyger.
Luna Park officials were eager to celebrate renovations to the Cyclone roller coaster, which included repainted tracks as well as wooden supports that replaced some of the concrete used to hold up the landmarked, 89-year-old ride.
Alberto Zamperla, president of the company that operates Luna Park, explained the new wooden supports are more flexible than the concrete they replaced — making the ride smoother — and are based on the ride’s original design.
“We were able to find original drawings, and with a GPS system, were able to redesign the ride like it was originally,” he said. “Now the ride is very smooth, because the wood is more flexible.”
Zamperla also said his company is planning to add child safety bars to the Cyclone cars sometime in the future.
Following a time-honored tradition, elected officials broke an egg cream over the Cyclone to celebrate the spring opening. A few even climbed into the cars to find out if the ride really is smoother.
“You could feel the difference in the work they did. It was great,” said Assemblywoman Pam Harris, who rode in the front alongside Zamperla. “And as I was riding you could see they had painted every single piece of wood.”
However, Harris assured Cyclone lovers the ride hasn’t lost any of its spunk.
“I took two Tylenols before I left the house because my back was hurting,” she said. “The ride is smoother, but the spirit of the cyclone is still preserved. The shakiness is still there.”
Buffalo residents Megan and Brian McLaughlin, who came to Coney Island for a friend’s wedding, took their first ride on the Cyclone Saturday. They said the experience lived up to their expectations.
“I thought it was great. It would slam you around and rock you but it was a really good time,” said Brian. “It’s old school. It feels like a roller coaster is supposed to.”
Borough President Eric Adams said renovations to the Cyclone are part of a broader renaissance in Coney Island, which includes a new amphitheater scheduled to open in the summer and the New Year’s Eve ball drop in the People’s Playground.
“The Cyclone is representative of what Coney Island is: a roller coaster that has had its ups and downs, its twists and turns, but clearly we are coming to a firm destination,” Adams said.
Luna Park is also expecting to debut a new ride, the Endeavor, ahead of Memorial Day weekend when the park will be open seven days a week. Luna Park also introduced new wristbands this year. Visitors can purchase $35 wristbands that provide unlimited access to many of the park’s attractions for four hours. However, the $70 platinum wristbands also allow riders to go on five thrill rides, which include the Cyclone, Thunderbolt, Coney Island Raceway, Slingshot, and Zenobio.